The parallels between rocket science and diabetes
Have you ever noticed how syringes look so similar to rockets?
The pointy tip - aerodynamic for both air and skin.
The markings - indicating stages or units.
The fins - providing stability in both applications.
As it turns out diabetes and rocket science really aren't all that different. Both require an in-depth understanding of mathematics - and the reactions or lack thereof to these numbers can mean the difference between life and death. Both require an intense amount of training and self-discipline to remain proficient. Both use a mix of cutting-edge technology and the challenge to do more with what you already have. A rocket scientist is constantly making backup plans for launch slips or equipment malfunctions - sound familiar? The parallels are striking.
Welcome to my life as a rocket scientist living (LIVING!) with T1D. By day I am an aerospace engineer at NASA, and by night I'm a wife, mother of two, piano dabbler, Star Trek fan and spreadsheet queen.
Breaking down barriers
My Aerospace Engineering career began in a triplewide trailer on an Army airfield in Huntsville, AL. Glamorous, right? I was the only female Flight Test Engineer in my group which, lucky for me, meant I got an entire restroom to myself. But before I could hop on those hot rod helicopters I had to get a medical clearance through the Federal Aviation Administration. As a person with Type 1 Diabetes, the process was anything but smooth. It took nearly six months of back-and-forth letters with the FAA before I was finally granted my medical clearance! During my three years at the Aviation Flight Test Directorate I worked to break down T1D-imposed barriers and completed special operations helicopter dunker training, the Army parachute course, certification in the altitude chamber, and clearance to fly on a Navy Saab at the Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland. I also married my rocket scientist husband and finished a Master's degree!
These days you can find me controlling the attitude of the International Space Station from mission control in Houston. I'm passionate about sharing my struggles and successes as both a woman in STEM and person with T1D. I believe in using my voice to make positive and meaningful change -- I want to go BOLDLY where no person with T1 has gone before in the hopes it will open the door for those who come next!